Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new Gutter Books anthology ‘Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by The Replacements’ is Josh Flanagan.
Name: Josh Flanagan
Story Title: Bastards of Young
Firstly, what drew you to this anthology?
My friend, Jay Stringer, whose fault this whole affair is, invited me along, presumably having read some of my comic book work, and previous novel, Astro Van, or just my ramblings on social media and podcasts. But I said yes immediately, because I really love this kind of writing prompt, and the sort of characters the music evokes. Real people. Working people. Rough people.
How did you first get into the band, and what was the first Replacements album you owned?
I was very excited to contribute, but I felt the need to confess my relative unfamiliarity with The Replacements. I mean, I knew who they were, and their place, and their significance, and I even knew what they sounded like, but I wasn’t what I would call a fan. But every so often, context can make music work where before it hadn’t connected. I dove in, reading lyrics, rather than listening. I did have a copy of Tim, so that was helpful, and I’m not a complete poser.
How would you pitch your story to potential readers?
It’s a story of people without a lot of choices in life. Survive or don’t. From the outside, some of those look like bad choices, but really it’s not much of a choice at all. In this one, if you’re a young single mother, and you need to feed your child, and keep him warm, you’ll do anything. It’s not even a question of whether you should do it or not. This is just the hand you’re dealt. The problem is, sometimes it can go bad.
This story aside, does music have an important influence on your fiction?
I think music plays into an aesthetic that is shared with both the stories I really enjoy reading, and the ones I really like to write. I love to have something solid and grounded that I can understand. I never go for, nor do I write stories about ethereal, lofty things. I love stories about real people we know or might know, and I feel the same way about music. When you look at the Replacements, they’re stories about life, and not necessarily the meaning of it.
Finally, if you had the opportunity to put together a music-themed anthology, which band or artist would you choose?
That is an amazing question. It turns out that choosing something like that is much more challenging than you’d think, and the Replacements are an excellent choice. Running through my favorite bands, the first one I landed on that made my raise my eyebrows was the Ramones. The songs are gritty, grimy, and just a bit silly. Actually, I bet that’s already been done somewhere. It should have anyway.